With his long-term future very much in question, Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon opened up about how he’s feeling with just days left in the season.
Once we officially close the book on the 2019 Chicago Cubs, we’ll have more than our fair share of storylines to follow. But in the short-term, only one seems to matter: what does the future hold for manager Joe Maddon – and does he have any shot at staying on the North Side?
In my mind, the answer to that question is a clear, resounding, ‘no.’ I’m really not sure how anyone could think anything to the contrary. The team has lost seven consecutive games – erasing any long-shot hopes of a postseason appearance, his managerial decisions have come into question at multiple times throughout the year and, perhaps most importantly, it seems like it’s time to simply move on.
Chicago finds itself near the bottom of the league in errors, swinging strike rate, contact rate, double plays grounded into and save percentage, to name just a few areas where the team has fallen short of expectations. The results haven’t been there – and that’s putting it mildly.
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But if you ask Maddon, he’s not feeling the heat – at least not yet. And he has no intentions of departing once the team completes the regular season this weekend.
"“It’s not just a one-sided decision,” Maddon told 670 WSCR AM on Wednesday. “We’ll make that over the next couple days and we’ll move it on from there. But I’m very pragmatic. I’m very optimistic. And so I’ll just leave it with that. I’m very optimistic right now."
If you look big picture, I mean, I guess it makes sense. He guided the team to the postseason in four of his first five seasons with Chicago, including three-straight NLCS and a World Series title – something no other Cubs skipper had delivered in over a century. That’s a pretty solid resume, no matter what you think of Maddon’s quirkiness.
But Chicago heads into action Wednesday night in Pittsburgh with a mere 82 wins – and either a Milwaukee win or Cubs loss will seal the team’s fate – watching the postseason from home for the first time since 2015. As we all know, expectations have changed at Wrigley Field and a .500 record just isn’t going to cut it. Period.
Regardless of whether or not Maddon returns to stand with one foot perched on the top step of the home dugout at the Friendly Confines, next year’s Cubs team will undoubtedly look vastly different. Maddon, though, doesn’t seem ready to call this the end – rather, he views the situation as a two-way street between him and his front office counterparts.
"“I mean, that’s what I signed up for in the beginning. It’s always what the intention was, to stay for a really long time. Of course that’s still a possibility,” he said. “But going to the entire season, you get to this point of the year and it’s really a two-way street. It works on both sides. It’s an organizational philosophy, what they’re looking for, and it’s also a personal philosophy, what am I looking for. It’s not unilateral. It’s a bilateral discussion and a conclusion to be reached.”"
In recent days, we’ve seen reports and rumors (subscription required) connecting Maddon to the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels – hardly a surprise given his standing in the game. But for now, we’re in a holding pattern as the Cubs finish up the year.
The two-time Manager of the Year went on to say he expects a decision from the Cubs one way or the other sooner rather than later. I love Maddon – I’ve always loved him and what he brings to the clubhouse and dugout. But I can’t help but feel we’re witnessing the end of an era – and what an era it’s been.